Gerard Butler describes harrowing Mavericks mishap

Getty Images file photoGerard Butler

Getty Images file photoGerard Butler

Gerard Butler revealed details of his near-death experience at Mavericks last month on a British talk show Sunday night saying “it was a close call.”

The 42-year-old actor was at the Mavericks break, roughly half a mile off Pillar Point in Half Moon Bay, filming “Of Men and Mavericks,” a movie based on the life of surfer Jay Moriarity – for whom Mavericks and the surf contest is named – when a wave pulled him under.

Butler told hosts on the Graham Norton Show that he was getting ready to film a scene when he was pummeled by waves and had to pull off his surfboard to survive. He said three of the professional surfers he was with urged him to paddle and dive under the coming wave, which he did, but he was flipped around by the water and desperately need air. When he tried to come to the surface he was hit by more waves.

Butler told the talk show hosts he was under for nearly one minute.

“I felt the next wave go and it started all over again,” he said. “I can’t believe this is happening. All I kept thinking was there is a film crew up there waiting.”

Butler said it wasn’t the first near-death experience he’d had while filming, but it was more than enough for him.

<p>“I had a few hairy experiences,” he said. “I earned my debt a couple times.”

The window for the Mavericks surf contest, which 24 professional surfers come from around the globe to take on the monstrous waves at the world-class surfing spot, opened Jan. 1. The contest has not yet been called.

Just because the 24 men who come to compete are professionals doesn’t mean they are immune to the force of the waves.

Last January, 30-year-old Jason Trette was critically injured when he was hit by a wave at Mavericks. World Surfing champion Kelly Slater was held down under Mavericks waves after a wipeout in 2000 and Mark Foo, a seasoned big-wave surfer from Hawaii, died at Mavericks in 1994.

akoskey@sfexaminer.com

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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